Books remain atop Amazon’s Social Issues and Special Needs Categories
AGOURA HILLS, Calif., Oct. 3, 2017 – As with all of the books in the Irresistible Church series by Joni and Friends, the latest release, “Doing Life Together,” provides practical steps and guidelines to help individuals and churches better serve the disability community. This book specifically addresses the sense of isolation that many individuals or families living with disability experience and how important it is for friends to come alongside them to offer meaningful friendship and support.
“Many churches have worked hard to create a Sunday morning environment that welcomes and embraces families affected by disability. This should be celebrated! But the ‘messiness’ of life with a disability extends far beyond Sunday mornings,” writes Debbie Lillo, co-author of “Doing Life Together” and longtime disability advocate. “This book is a challenge for all of us to step back and recognize that adaptations and programming are important, but they are merely first steps. They allow our friends a place of engagement and access to the church family, but if we are honest, all of us want something deeper than Sunday morning programming. We hunger for quality relationships, for someone with whom we can share the highs and lows of life. We desire to know and be known. This booklet offers practical tools for churches and individuals to help meet daily needs, build community, and alleviate some of the isolation that families affected by disability experience.”
Parents of a child with disabilities struggle to balance children, household duties and work in addition to the added responsibilities of caregiving. It can also be challenging for the mom or dad with a disability to feel fulfilled in the parenting role. Most parents desire to support their typical children well, in addition to caring for the child with disabilities, but they are often stretched too thin and feel overwhelmed by all the needs.
“Even if you don’t fully relate or understand, the gift of listening without judgment to a couple who is living this journey is a gift beyond words,” Lillo explains. “They need a safe, Christ-centered environment to share their struggles.”
Some of the specific and practical advice included in the “Doing Life Together” addresses topics such as combating isolation, meeting practical needs, building community and nurturing the soul. The book includes a wealth of resources listing some of these step-by-step processes, as well as printable worksheets for planning and ironing out all the details. Previous books in the series help with the recruiting of volunteers and getting churches interested in doing disability ministry in the first place.
In summary, Lillo says, “the act of supporting one another in times of need is the true essence of living life together, and the reward is great.”
Previous books in the series include: “Start with Hello,” an introduction to disability ministry; “Engaging Game Changers,” a guide to training volunteers; “We’ve Got This!,” explanation and instruction for a respite program for individuals with disabilities and their caregivers; “Call Me Friend,” an exploration of the buddy program as one method of disability ministry; “Pathways to Belonging,” a study in the various ways that churches can construct disability ministries to meet their specific needs; “Shout for Joy!,” which provides practical solutions for how worship leaders can make worship more accommodating; and “Are You Ready?,” which shared insight as to how a leader’s heart for disability trickles down and influences the congregation as a whole.
The first book quickly shot to #1 in the social issues and special needs categories on Amazon, showing that individuals and churches want to serve the disability community but don’t know where or how to start. Each book since has similarly spent some time at the top of Amazon’s “Social Issues and Christianity” and “Special Needs” categories.
Designed to equip churches in becoming inclusive, welcoming communities, all of the books are free, short resources – 50 pages or so – and include links to downloadable tools introduced in the book’s instructions, such as worksheets for gauging needs, training modules for volunteers, etc. These are available at the website that corresponds to the book series, www.IrresistibleChurch.org, also launched by Joni and Friends to equip churches in becoming irresistible.
For more than 38 years, Joni and Friends has worked to accelerate ministry to the disability community around the world, offering a wide array of life-affirming ministries, including the Christian Institute on Disability; Wheels for the World; international radio and television programs filled with inspirational stories; and Family Retreats, where families affected by disability learn they are not alone. For more information, please visit http://www.joniandfriends.org/.
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